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Honey vs sugar - the truth about our sweeteners

Honey vs sugar - the truth about our sweeteners

If you have a sweet-tooth, you may like a sugar or two in your tea or coffee, or maybe a spread on your toast. Many will swear a spoonful of honey is healthier for you than sugar, but are they right? Glucose and fructose are core constituents of both, but there is a big difference between the two. 

Honey is a more “natural” product

When it comes to the manufacture of sugar, the organic acids, proteins, nitrogen elements, enzymes and vitamins in the sugar cane are destroyed during the process. Honey, on the other hand, is a natural sweetener, and subject only to minimal heating. It therefore retains much of its natural goodness, including its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, which aren’t found in sugar.

Bee Keeper gathering honey

Honey contains more calories per teaspoon, but...

One teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories, while one teaspoon of honey has 21 calories. Sounds like a win for sugar, right? Not necessarily. Honey is actually sweeter than sugar, so we use less of it. Consider the average 500ml bottle of cola has a massive FOURTEEN teaspoons of sugar in it, it’s easy to see why honey is the healthier option.

The Bees have already done the work for us

Regular table sugar comes in the form of sucrose, which is glucose and fructose bonded together at the molecular level. When we digest sugar, our body has to use its own enzymes to break this sucrose apart into its two constituent components before we can turn it into energy. Honey meanwhile, already has fructose and glucose separated, thanks to a special enzyme produced by the bee. This allows our body to absorb these simple sugars directly, saving time and energy. This gives honey a lower GI rating (glycaemic index) than sugar. This index measures the absorption and infusion rate of sugars into the bloodstream. The slower the rate, the more gradual and healthier the digestion process.

Bees gather nectar from manuka flower

Sugar has zero nutritional value

You may have heard the term ‘empty calories’ before, but probably don’t know what it means. Sugar is a main offender when it comes to all show and no substance. It supplies energy, but virtually nothing else that builds or rebuilds the body. It lacks minerals and vitamins, and as mentioned before, it uses the body’s own enzymes to be absorbed into the bloodstream. The problem arises when these enzymes are all used up, and the body can’t use them for other important things. The metabolism of fatty acids and cholesterol is obstructed, promoting weight gain. That’s why sugar makes you fat. It prevents the body from breaking down those fatty acids, which are then sent to the organs around the body. Luckily, honey doesn’t create this problem, and is packed full of minerals and vitamins.

Honey is the smarter choice

In conclusion, if given the choice, honey would be the smarter way to go. It’s healthier for you than sugar, more natural and has a sweeter taste. If you’re trying to lose weight, replacing sugar with honey will almost certainly make a difference. Honey not only tastes sweeter, but comes in a variety of flavours that sugar can’t even begin to compete with. Unique to New Zealand, manuka honey is renowned the world over. Made from native New Zealand flowers, each batch is independently tested using rigorous criteria set by the UMF Honey Association. To see our range of manuka honey products, please click here. Or if you’d like to know more about Bee Plus and what we offer, you can contact us by clicking here.

Bee Plus Manuka Honey UMF30


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Our beehives are located in some of the most remote areas of New Zealand, safely away from any pollutants or pesticides. Our skilled beekeepers travel to these remote places and handle the process from start to finish with the utmost professionalism and expertise.

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